Update: "The Hold is Over," Metro Weekly, March 30, 2011.
Breaking News from Metro Weekly:
The announcement on Monday, March 28, that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had issued guidance instructing its field offices to put on hold cases involving same-sex, married bi-national couples seeking a green card for the foreign spouse sent shockwaves throughout the immigration and LGBT communities. Further clarification from Department of Homeland Security officials, however, suggests a much more limited, nuanced decision that leaves the issue unresolved and couples' futures in doubt.
On Monday afternoon, USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley told Metro Weekly, "USCIS has issued guidance to the field asking that related cases be held in abeyance while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues."
Despite statements from leading organizations – most prominently, Immigration Equality – suggesting that the cases would be held in abeyance until DOMA's constitutionality is settled, a DHS official told Metro Weekly on Monday night that the abeyance could last for as little as a week.
"[P]ursuant to CIS’s routine practice when there's a new law or regulation that will potentially affect their resolution of certain cases, they hold [the cases] in abeyance until they get the final guidance from the general counsel’s office," the official said. "DHS expects this issue to be resolved imminently."
After that abeyance has ended, the official notes, "[I]n individual cases, USCIS has always had the authority to exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis, in light of the unique circumstances of that particular case."